Episode 01: "Angel Attack"

Part I


The title song to Neon Genesis Evangelion is entitled "Thesis of the Cruel Angel". It's kind of catchy, and like most J-pop/rock songs, it makes no sense. According to the (translated) lyrics, the angel's cruel thesis is entering through the windows of my soul or something. It's the perfect intro song to this series. You know it must mean something, but it ends up being merely amusing in a nonsensical kind of way.

The tune is kind of catchy, however.

We open Episode 1 with some establishing shots of a creature swimming through an underwater city, some heavy artillery, and an announcer. An emergency evacuation has been called for. The city is deserted. A woman is driving and lamenting that she's lost someone. Resting in the passenger's seat is a picture of a boy labeled "Shinji Ikari."

Cut to the same Shinji on a public payphone. A recorded message informs him that there are no lines available. The statement Shinji makes in response to this? The very first impression that we as an audience have of him? The following: "It's no use. This is dumb. I shouldn't have come here."

Basically, those three sentences are a pretty accurate representation of his entire personality. Shinji's one of the angsty ones, to be sure. He looks at a photo--a sexy pinup-esque picture of a woman named Masato. It's the same woman in the car. There's a rustling of birds, Shinji sees a girl with blue hair for a second, and then there's an earthquake.

Coming up from behind the trees and buildings is a group of ships. Chasing them is the creature from the beginning. We then see two men in a secret base-type thing. "It's been fifteen years," one says, "but now we know - the Angels are back!"

Dum dum dum! The title screen now informs us that we're watching Episode 1: Angel Attack. This is the first and last time in this episode that anything will be clearly explained to us.

Meanwhile, Shinji's screaming as the ships and the angel-thing are attacking each other. The angel quite effortlessly crushes a few ships with some laser beam thingies (hey, no one said I needed to use technical terms here) and then flies nearish Shinji.

A car pulls up. It's Masato. She apologizes for being late. I get it, Gainax, you're trying to add some comedy to the mix. The chaotic scene outside is a nice contrast to how nonchalantly Masato apologizes for her lateness. It's funny!

Anyway. A thrilling chase scene ensures. The angel, according to the base people, is heading towards Tokyo-3... Which implies that Tokyo's been destroyed twice. I'd like to see some writers try that with New York City, except I honestly don't know if anyone would bother to rebuild it once, much less two times. There are orders to destroy the Angel at any cost, but it quite effortlessly and literally shreds the missiles aimed at it. Nothing's hurting it. It's got an "AT" field, which is a bit of pseudo-science that means that the angel is immune to conventional attacks. Naturally. Someone picks up THE RED PHONE and speaks to someone who apparently orders the backup plan.

The backup plan, to Misato's horror, involves the detonation of an "N-2" mine. She promptly pushes Shinji down--because ducking and covering totally works against atomic bombs--and we see that she is wearing a cross necklace. We're not five minutes into the show and the religious imagery is coming in. Trust me, it gets worse. The mine explodes and makes their car tumble.

Back in the base, everyone rejoices. Someone addresses one of the important looking people as Ikari, and tells him that it doesn't look like he'll be getting a shot at the Angel.

Connection time, folks: How many Ikari's could there be in one anime? They must be related. (That's probably a spoiler.) A woman informs them that the shock wave is approaching, and the radar goes blank.

Masato and Shinji push the car, flipped on its side, back on the right end. Being clad in a tight, low-cut skirt, I think she's not really wearing the best outfit for the occasion... Oh, wait, I get it. She's supposed to be the "easy" character in this anime. Pardon. The two thank each other--Masato for Shinji's pushing, and Shinji for Masato's rescuing. Masato tells Shinji to call her by her first name. Yes, she is the "easy" character in this anime.

The radar goes back online back in the base, and the angel is revealed to still be alive. There is of course a character who screams a very panicked, "It can't be!" Some bad voice actors lament that the N-2 mine was their last resort, and call the angel a demon.

Ladies and Gentlemen: This is an example of Irony!

In the car, Misato is on the phone, arranging further transportation. Black background--panics about car payments, ruined dress, snapped out by Shinji. Shinji asks about some batteries they stole, which the camera cuts to. There are about a dozen hooked up to the back of the car. I don't know what they're doing. Are they taking the place of gasoline? Would that even WORK? Either way, I'm sure there was really enough time to raid all the cars that were in the general area. Hey, wait a second--I seem to remember them being in an empty, desert-like area when they flipped the car over. Where were the other cars that they stole the batteries from?

Anyway, I digress. She says they needed to requisition them for emergency purposes; when he protests she tells him he's not as cute as she thought he originally was. Calls him "just a boy." Oooh. She can really cut. I'm sure she used impolite language in the original Japanese track, too.

The scientists/military guys realize that the angel has the ability to regenerate. The camera goes out. Ikari and another man talk about how it's getting smarter and upgrading itself automatically. Hey, just like Windows XP!

Masato and Shinji arrive in an elevator labeled "NERV". This, according to Masato, is a "secret organization controlled by the UN." Shinji's father works there, but Shinji doesn't know much about it. He doesn't even know what his father does for a living. Shinji tells us that all his teachers said that Ikari's job was "important to the future of mankind." Wow. My dad worked for an insurance company while I was growing up. I'm kind of jealous.

We cut to--

--wait a second. How would a teacher broach that subject? Of a father working for the safety of humanity, I mean. I'm really picturing one of those scenes out of Kindergarten Cop:

TEACHER: What does your daddy do for a living?

JOEY: My daddy's a doctor!

SALLY: My daddy owns a supermarket!

SHINJI: I don't know what my father does.

TEACHER: Don't worry, I'm sure it's important to the future of mankind.

That must be it. She was just saying that so the kid doesn't feel bad.


We cut to the base where Ikari is talking to some awful voice actors. He's been given control of the operation, and is being given a chance to beat the Angels. This is why NERV exists, apparently--to destroy the angels.

Ikari says he intends to activate "unit one". Someone comments that there is no pilot, and Ikari casually says that one's just been delivered.

Cut to Shinji. What skillful foreshadowing. He asks whether they're going to see his father. There is a quick flash of Shinji as a kid crying. Those of you who have seen further into the series are probably rolling your eyes going "That figures."

Apparently, Ikari had sent Shinji an ID card; Masato gives Shinji a training manual, and Shinji is temporarily surprised by the implication that he's going to be working for his father. In true "I'm Shinji and therefore angsty" fashion, he mumbles that his father only summoned him because he was needed. Masato observes that Shinji doesn't get along with his father, then says that she's the same way.

Shinji's very quickly taken out of his funk by the elevator going to the outside--or, specifically, the "geofront" that's underground. This is NERV's base, where they're going to rebuild the world. It is, as Masato says, "a fortress for all mankind."

With that pretty picture, we go to commercial, having wasted close to 15 minutes of our lives.

Next up: Shinji meets his father, causes a young girl to suffer, and unsuccessfully drowns in a vat of Jell-O. It'll be a trip, folks.

Recap by Richard Goodness.